Radiology ST1 in North West of England
I applied to radiology after taking an FY3 year out.
I became interested in radiology about halfway through my FY2 year. I had been working towards a surgical career, but slowly became disillusioned with this. After doing my MRCS Part A I realised it was the anatomy that I really enjoyed, so starting researching specialties that I could use this in. I did a taster week in pathology, which was good, and then a taster in radiology and I loved it. The more I researched it, the more I knew it was for me, and the biggest thing was how many radiology trainees told me it was a great specialty and encouraged me into it, which isn’t something I found in other specialties.
Radiology was the only specialty I applied for. I did put in a token application to core surgical training as this is what I had been working towards throughout medical school, but withdrew this when I realised that I wouldn’t have followed through with a job in surgery if I was offered one.
I applied to both the normal application cycle for 2022-2023 and also the ‘round 4’ of the 2021-2022 cycle. This made the application process feel very drawn out, and seemed to last from about October - March. The application form was fairly straight forward and everything went relatively smoothly. I felt that keeping on top of my emails and regularly logging into oriel helped with this. I was also part of a number of groups on Facebook and Telegram with other applicants, and use reddit lots too (JuniorDoctorsUK subreddit) so when something got announced it normally got circulated here too. I’d recommend trying to get access to some of these groups.
Please note: updated portfolio requirements in the 2022-2023 application year mean that the points discussed in these case studies are out-of-date, however you might pick up some useful tips to get you some more points
I had a decent portfolio because I had been working towards surgery, and had therefore built up a pretty comprehensive list of extra-curricular stuff (the CST portfolio requirements are much more rigorous). The radiology portfolio is great because a lot of it is transferable, likely because they recognise that all walks of life can, and do, apply to radiology. Taster week is a must and got me 2 points in the first section. I also did an intercalated BSc in medical school and got a first in this, so got 2 points in the next section. I had led a QI project, but found the criteria in this section of doing MORE than one project a year was really tough, and certainly not something I had done, so got 1 point in this section. In my foundation hospital, they ran a programme for getting a teaching qualification (the AFHEA), which I did and never thought it would amount to much, but turns out it got me 2 points in the teaching section. Finally I got 2 points in the publication section for leading 2 publications, one for a publication in medical school and the other was an article I wrote for ‘statpearls’ - if you haven’t heard of this, go and check it out, you can write short review articles on a topic you know about, they’re pubmed indexed, peer reviewed and get turned around within a few weeks. They are running out of available topics to write about though.
It was verified as the same mark that I assessed myself at, so no appeals process for me.
I didn’t want revision to take over my life, so I started preparing pretty early, probably in about October. I did around an hour a day of questions after work until about a month before the exam, at which point I spent much more time cramming, maybe a couple of hours a day in the week and a few more hours over the weekend.
For the clinical part, I exclusively used question banks. I subscribed to Passmedicine, and did this question bank twice. Every time I got a question wrong, I made a flashcard on it using Anki, and made sure I reviewed these flashcards daily to cement those difficult subjects in my head. Once I had done the question bank twice, I did all the questions I got wrong a third time. I found Passmedicine great for knowledge and I learnt loads, but the format of the questions were nothing like the real exam; I think a lot are pulled from the medical school finals questions, so the stems are much, much longer than the actual exam. I then subscribed to MCQBank. I found this mildly useful. I did this bank once, and then repeated the incorrect questions and made flashcards throughout. These questions are much more like the real exam, but I did not feel I gained much from this compared with Passmedicine, and showed to me how much knowledge Passmedicine drilled into me. I did not go on any courses, but there are a few available. For the SJT part, I did all of the SJT questions in the question banks, alongside the UKFPO mock papers that are published for the medical school final SJT. I also downloaded and read through all of the GMC ethical guidance (not just medical practice, all the pdfs on confidentiality, working with children etc).
I found the exam a bit odd. Some questions were extremely straightforward, but others were a bit more rogue where they would assume a lot of knowledge with extremely small amounts of information. The SJT was equally unpredictable. Overall, I didn’t walk out feeling like I’d done well, or that it was a disaster. Most people I spoke with felt similar.
A lot to be honest. There was about 5 weeks between MSRA and interviews, and I gave myself a week off after the MSRA before I started interview prep. This meant I was preparing for the interview before I knew my MSRA score or if I’d actually be invited to interview. Fortunately I did get invited, and this extra week or so or prep time was really useful. I probably spent about an hour or two a night on the weekdays, few more hours at the weekend initially when I was getting my head around all the content, and then did mainly mock interviews in the week leading up to the interview. I probably did about 1 mock interview a night, and then worked on the questions that I found more difficult.
I started off by trying to get my head around some of the fundamental knowledge I needed (exams in radiology, the training structure, life as a trainee), so that I could appear to have a good understanding of a career in radiology if asked about this. I then used ‘the interview’ book to go through some of the personal skills questions and formulate answers for these (tell me about your communication skills, or an a time when you led a team etc). Once I had formulated answers to about every question I could think of, or read might come up (radiology cafe), I started doing mock interviews with friends and family. I did this on Microsoft Teams to try and emulate the feeling on the day, and also recorded them so that I could see if I was doing anything subconsciously that looked odd.
On the day I was bricking it, but it was actually much nicer than I expected. I actually felt like they were trying to get the best out of me in the short time they had. It went by in a flash as you'd imagine. I had 2 interviewers and 1 lay representative on the call. Only one of the interviewers asked questions, the other just sort of stared at me, but both were fairly friendly and gave me some good non-verbal communication.
I got my first choice!
Don’t think so. I put a lot of effort into this application as I really wanted to stay in Manchester, and it seemed to pay off. Overall I think the radiology application process was pretty fair.